Can't resist tinkering
I've been reading the beginning of Razor Coast, which was in my virtual stocking on Wednesday. There's a number of "degraded heroes" in it - a party of former adventurers where it all went wrong for them, and they're moping around in variously bad situations in the city, for the PCs to optionally inspire, rescue, and join forces with.
It made me think about how to model "degraded hero" in 3.5/Pathfinder. And there's an obvious answer: long-term negative levels, caused by failure and emotional trauma. What I don't have (up front) is a mechanism more complicated than Restoration for removing these long-term negative levels. Something like atonement/geas-quest sorts of thing, or fulfilling a ghost's purpose to banish it, but strictly on a "mundane" level; it could be done with sufficiently inspiring Diplomacy or even Intimidation, or bardic performance, or just removing whatever the block is that keeps them from being active again. (I'm also watching Nikita and thinking about blackmail and so on.)
And then that led to something else: I thought of how rogues get powers like "do 2 points of Dex or Str damage with each successful hit", and I considered the idea of using Intimidate, Diplomacy, Bluff, or other social skills to do temporary Intelligence (enragement), Wisdom (distraction), or Charisma (self-doubt) damage, the way Ray of Enfeeblement does temporary Strength damage. It'd generally be hard to do in combat (ye olde -4 in combat), but it sure might be potent to use against spellcasters and others who do magical effects. Probably not major effects, but 2 or 4 points of ability score damage, if you make a sufficiently hard skill roll (target's Will save + 20 or something as the difficulty?)